Why Do You Matter?

And yes, pun joke intended (in a material science way, of course).

Let’s start with an assumption. It’s most likely you’re sitting down and reading this. You’re sitting on a bunch of chemicals that have certain properties. These properties created stiffness and strength, which created the chair.

Materials are all around us. Your laptop, the concrete, a book, a pillow: you name it! Materials are just chemicals arranged in an orderly fashion that results in thermal, mechanical, and optical properties.

Without chemistry being able to arrange to create materials, the life you live wouldn’t exist. Some of these materials have been created either by brilliance, accident, or stupidity. Let’s give one BIG (but small) example.

Your DNA is a variety of chemicals that are bonded to each other to create the properties/genes of your body.

So, DNA is composed of chemicals. Chemicals are composed of atoms and molecules. What is the size of DNA? The thickness of DNA is between 2 nanometers. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter (really, REALLY small). For those who need visual reinforcement, here’s an example. Hold a random fruit in your hand. The Earth would be 1 meter, and the fruit would be 1 nanometer.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the arrangement of the atoms/molecules was almost permanent. If you hated a certain property in a material, you were stuck with it. The only other option was to start from chemicals and create another final product. This was also a HUGE waste of time and money to create the proper results.

Then came the scientists with the golden question: What if we can manipulate the atom/molecule at the nano-scale to give us the properties we WANT the material to have? That’s what nanotechnology is: the manipulation of atoms and molecules at the nanoscale to create new properties and materials.

If we can create materials by changing the arrangement of chemicals at such a small size (nanoscale), we can create something useful in our lives. Can you guess what the name of this field of nanotechnology is called? 🤔

NANOMATERIALS! But how do we define nanomaterials? There are two qualifications to be classified as a nanomaterial:

  • The length, width, or height of the material has to be at the nanoscale.

That’s great, but the number of nanomaterials is vast. Like, very vast. We need a new classification of nanomaterials.

Without going into the math or technical information, this is the most common classification of nanomaterials: Dimensions.

The 3 dimensions are Length, Width, and Height.

  • 0 Dimensional (0-D) Nanomaterials have all 3 dimensions at the nanoscale.

But what are some nanomaterials with 0-D, 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D classifications?

For 0-D, a common nanomaterial is nanoparticles or fullerene. Nanoparticles are atoms that have been manipulated to execute specific properties (hence the name “nanoparticles”).

For 1-D, a common nanomaterial is carbon nanotubes. The length of a carbon nanotube is visible to the naked eye. The other dimensions are not.

For 2-D, a common nanomaterial is graphene. You can see the length and width of a sheet of graphene, but you can’t see the height/thickness.

For 3-D, a common nanomaterial is an aerogel, graphite, and even people. You can see the length, width, and height of the material.

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© 2022 by Carlos Manuel Jarquin Sanchez. All Rights Reserved.

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